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Being a peace officer.

I am honored to address the graduates, as well as their families and friends, and to recognize your accomplishment. I graduated from this academy as did my two sons. Both of them are police officers.


During this academy, you have learned the basics--criminal, civil, and procedural law; traffic enforcement; accident investigation; patrol tactics; defensive tactics; firearms; tactical communication; evidence collection; and investigations. You know the importance of keeping physically fit, mentally alert, morally straight, and prepared for the unknown or unexpected. You also have learned, and hopefully embraced, ethics, integrity, fairness, respect, justice, and compassion among other core values necessary to be a successful and professional peace officer.

As a peace officer, you will make a difference. You will save lives. You will put your own lives on the line for others. You will be that thin line between chaos and order. Without you, society would not function. Peace officers have been described in various ways, some very negative and others glowing. I prefer the definition "men and women of selfless courage and a nobility of purpose; one who serves and protects."

With that type of job description, you have chosen a profession with a tremendous amount of responsibility. You must do the right thing for the right reasons, not in your best interest, but in the best interest of the community. Victims will be looking for you to help them and to make things right. The community will expect you to hold criminals responsible within the law. Take that responsibility seriously because this is a very important job, but remember not to take yourself too seriously. Maintain a sense of humor and balance in your life as you will see, hear, and feel things that no one should, but someone must.

You should be proud of yourselves, and we should be proud of you. There are not many that can or will do this job. For every 100 who apply, only 1 or 2 will make it. So, why are you here? Did you always want to go into law enforcement? Or, was this a recent decision? Was it because you have a relative in law enforcement? Saw an episode of "CSI" on television? Or, was it simply because you thought you could help? This is a noble profession, but there are some who will dislike you for what you represent, not for who you are. They will say and do things to discredit you or try and convince you not to do your job. But, being a good cop means you will rise above the adversity to serve and protect even those who may try to dishonor you and the profession.

A law enforcement agency cannot function without the public's trust and confidence. For over 157 years, California law enforcement has earned that trust and confidence. Now, it is up to you to continue the duty and tradition of your predecessors and current law enforcement officers. Earn the public's trust and confidence--honor the badge you wear, and be proud that you are among the finest society has to offer. In closing, the definition I used to describe peace officers, "men and women of selfless courage and a nobility of purpose; one who serves and protects," is in the dictionary--it describes the word hero.

Sheriff-Coroner Bill Cogbill, Sonoma County, California, Sheriff's Department, delivered this speech at the police academy graduation in December 2007.

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Title Annotation:Notable Speech; Bill Cogbill
Author:Cogbill, Bill
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Article Type:Speech
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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